Mark Duffy has not been named in a match day squad since Michael O’Neill became the new Stoke City manager.
Duffy is on a season-long loan at the Bet365 Stadium from Sheffield United. Yet the 34-year-old has managed just 166 minutes of Championship football so far in 2019/20.
Duffy’s arrival coincided with a terrible run of form from Stoke that resulted in Nathan Jones being sacked at the beginning of November. At the time they were second from bottom and four points from safety.
O’Neill has since won three of his six games in charge to move the Potters up one place and one point closer to getting out of the relegation zone.
Yet Duffy has played no part in that, failing to even be included on the substitutes’ bench.
So what next for Mark Duffy at Stoke?
Duffy was a key player for the Blades last term as they won automatic promotion to the Premier League. In fact, the attacking midfielder had been crucial under Chris Wilder during his first three years in charge at Bramall Lane.
Duffy was signed in the summer of 2016 shortly after Wilder was appointed and to date has played 121 times for the South Yorkshire club.
Then there was a fall out between the two ahead of United’s first top flight campaign in 12 years. Duffy asked Wilder for a pay rise – which did not please the 52-year-old.
The Blades boss said he would not be dictated to, showing that he has a ruthless streak. Shortly after Duffy went on loan to Stoke.
It makes a return to Bramall Lane in January unlikely. Most loan deals have the option to end them six months’ early, but Duffy probably does not have a future under Wilder.
Having not played for United this term, he could move to another club, though. Rules stipulate that a player cannot play for three sides in a single season. So far Duffy has only featured for the Potters.
If game time continues to prove to be elusive under O’Neill, perhaps the midfield ace could be sent somewhere else. Maybe even a permanent move might be a possibility.